My Genealogy Research

My research, genealogy tips and anecdotes

My Genealogy Research

The Keen Family of Broughton Gifford – Good Old Research and a DNA Mystery

I had done some preliminary research on my the family of my Great Great Grandmother, Dora Keen Wardell, a while ago. I found her and her mother and sisters in the 1841 Census in England. That info enabled me to figure out that they were from Broughton Gifford, Wiltshire.

Keen is a very common name in that area of Wiltshire, and to compound the difficulties of research in the 18th century, the families weren’t very unique when it came to first names.

Daniel Jane Keen marriageI am very confident that my Great Great Grandmother’s grandfather was a William Keen of Broughton Gifford. I am fairly confident that I know who is parents are, however, at this point I can’t be 100% sure. There were a few William Keens born about the same time in Broughton Gifford. Two of those are possibilities. A third William Keen who was the son of Daniel Keen and his first wife, Jane Shepherd, is the one that I am pretty sure is my ancestor.

I had been working on compiling as much data as I could for all of the Keen families in Broughton Gifford and attempting to connect them either to my family or others, when I found that I had a DNA match with a descendant of a Samuel Keen from Broughton Gifford.

Updated: Two DNA Matches

20 Dec 2020: I found a new DNA match with a descendant of a Thomas Keen born 1818 in Broughton Gifford. Thomas’ father, Phillip Keen, was the son of Thomas Keen b. 1759 and his first wife. The Samuel listed below is the son of Thomas Keen and his second wife. That Thomas was the son of Phillip Keen, who’s father, Hammond, was the half sibling of my ancestor William Keen.

These two DNA matches convinces me that I am correct in assuming that my William descends from Daniel Keen Jr in Broughton Gifford. That ties together the two reports that I link to below.

The Samuel Keen with whom I have a DNA match was born c. 1805 in Wiltshire, England. He was sent to New South Wales, Australia as a convict in 1826. His trial was on 4 March 1826. On one record in Australia he is listed as “alias Gay”. He was sentenced to life. In 1842 he was granted a pardon.

There is only one Samuel Keen born in Broughton Gifford around 1805. He was the son of Thomas Keen and Ann Collett Gay. They were married 6 Sep 1802 in Broughton Gifford. It was the second marriage for both. Ann’s first husband was Aaron Gay. Thomas and Ann had two sons, William bp 9 April 1803 and Samuel bp 25 Dec 1805, both in Broughton Gifford. It’s interesting to note that in convict records, there is a Thomas Keen, age 36, arrested for house breaking in Wiltshire. He was sentenced to one year. He died in July 1839 at “Devizes Prison”. He was buried 3 July in Broughton Gifford. It’s possible that this was Samuel’s brother.

The person who I match with has Thomas’ parents as Benjamin and Mary King Keen in their tree on Ancestry. However, the son of Benjamin and Mary was born c. 1790 which would have meant that Thomas only about 16 at the time of Sam’s birth and age 13 at the time of son Thomas Jr’s birth. He would have been even younger at the time of his first marriage. While “young” marriages were common in this area of Wiltshire, I believe Thomas would have been too young even by Wiltshire standards.

That makes the best option for parents of Thomas to be the son of Hammond Keen and his wife Mary Bull. Hammond was the half sibling of the William Keen that I believe to be my ancestor. That strengthens my belief in the connection back to Daniel Keen since it would coincide with the DNA match I have with a descendant of Thomas’ son, Samuel.

Research Results

I’ve added two pages of genealogy information for Keen families in Broughton Gifford. The first is for the individuals that I know are ancestors of my Great Great Grandmother, Dora Long Keen Wardell. You can see that info here: William Keen of Broughton Gifford. The second page is for 3 generations of descendants of Daniel Keen. You can view that info here: Daniel Keen of Broughton Gifford. Both pages are also in the drop down menu under English families. I also have a Google Doc with all of the data I have been collecting on the Keen family in Broughton Gifford. There is also some information on the Bryant and Brown families that I descend from. You can see that information here: The Keen, Bryant and Brown Families of Broughton Gifford

I’m hoping to make some other DNA matches that will help to cement the connection between these two families. At that point I will make a formal pdf report. The area around Broughton Gifford was a center for home weavers, a trade that most of the Keen families participated in. It’s been interesting collecting information on the history of the area and I will include that in my final report.

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